While there’s no shortage of great military movies to watch while we quarantine inside our houses, it’s safe to say that Top Gun: Maverick is among (if not the) most anticipated mil-movies of 2020. We’ve been waiting over three decades to find out what happens to everyone’s favorite naval aviator in the era of stealthy fifth-generation fighters and the rapidly developing hypersonic technologies that seem to play a role in the new flick, but now it seems we’ll have to wait just a little bit longer.
Until December, to be specific.
I know many of you have waited 34 years. Unfortunately, it will be a little longer. Top Gun: Maverick will fly this December. Stay safe, everyone.
— Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) April 2, 2020
This decision makes Top Gun: Maverick just the latest delay in a slew of similar announcements made by movie studios and event management firms around the world. The decision to postpone the Top Gun sequel by six months seems like a financially prudent move, seeing as not only will theaters potentially still be closed in early June (fingers crossed that they don’t need to be), but there’s a good chance America’s workforce will still be smarting economically from to the historic number of layoffs and furloughs that coincided with America’s ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
While some studios have opted to release films intended for the theaters early on streaming platforms for a premium price (usually around $20), it’s unlikely that we’ll see blockbusters like Maverick follow suit. Big budget action blockbusters cost a fortune to produce, and a similarly large one to market. A common rule of thumb in the film industry says you should expect to spend about as much marketing a film as you do creating it — which means Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t only need to make its $152 million production budget back before turning profitable, but rather double that before the movie studio sees a penny of profit.
Skipping the theater and moving straight to streaming might make sense for lower-budget films, but with the need to make clear more than $300 million just to pay the bills, blockbusters like Top Gun have to aim for revenue in the $500 million+ range just to pay bills and offset losses from less successful pictures. Put simply, while smaller new films and older classics may be seeing a fair amount of success thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others, event movies like Maverick and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow are just too pricey to make to skip straight to your living room.
Of course, some salty old crabs like may may contend that Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchel is actually a dangerously selfish pilot that regularly violates safety protocol and behaves inappropriately both in the air and on the ground, it doesn’t mean I’m not dying to see the incredible cinematic sequences this new installment in the Top Gun franchise has to offer. Thanks to Cruise’s efforts behind the scenes, many of the flying sequences shown in the movie were filmed with the cast flying in real aircraft.
“I said to the studio, ‘You don’t know how hard this movie’s going to be,” Cruise told Empire. “No-one’s ever done this before. There’s never been an aerial sequence shot this way. I don’t know if there ever will be again, to be honest.”
Now, with Top Gun: Mavrick postponed, it looks like we’ll have to wait until Christmas to know if all the effort was worth it. For what it’s worth, you’ll still find me first in line to buy tickets… and here’s hoping I won’t have to be wearing a mask while I do.